Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

From the Editor - Mary, Joseph, Some Sheep and a Lobster: Opinion

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

From the Editor - Mary, Joseph, Some Sheep and a Lobster: Opinion

Article excerpt

"EeEh, Joseph, am I glad to see ya. Our Jesus has been a little bugger all day." Welcome to the school nativity play, a performance nominally set in Judea 2,000 years ago but actually located at the heart of modern British culture. Some six in seven primary schools stage them. But why, in this secular age, do they remain so popular?

It's partly because even though they're specifically Christian they aren't remotely exclusive. Pupils of all faiths and none can join in (pages 22- 26). Parents instinctively accept that creed, or lack of it, isn't as important as the opportunity to applaud their children on a public stage and assail friends and relatives with pictures of their phenomenal talent. Parental pride trumps dogma every time.

Nativity plays are also endlessly elastic. In recent years, the cast of characters has expanded enormously. Sheep, palm trees and camels have been joined by horses, rabbits and cacti. Phalanxes of angels are so yesterday. Adventurous impresarios have added lobsters, bats and cowboys. One school in Kent even scripted a Liz, Mary's hard-drinking cousin, and had an adult Jesus turn water into lager.

There has been some pushback from the Church. The Pope wrote recently that animals probably didn't feature prominently at the gig in Bethlehem. Is he mad? How reckless can you get? Taking a stand against gay marriage and the ordination of women is one thing. But trying to write Donkey Daniel out of the script is playing with fire. Clearly, they don't properly appreciate the importance of school nativity plays in Germany.

It's true that some of the original parts have taken on far greater prominence than Matthew and Luke intended. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.